D.N.M.: Def doesn’t make a sufficient showing of some discriminatory effect to get further discovery of selective enforcement

Defendant doesn’t make a sufficient showing of some discriminatory effect to get further discovery of selective enforcement against African-Americans. United States v. Laneham, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176486 (D. N.M. Oct. 25, 2017):

The Court concludes that there are several reasons why Laneham does not make a credible showing that his statistical evidence establishes discriminatory effect. For one, the District of New Mexico statistics do not relate to individuals similarly situated to Laneham. The ATF’s Surge operation focused on one Albuquerque region, and its stated goal was to target the “worst of the worst”: people with a history of violent crime. See Casanova Tr. at 80:25 (Johnson)(stating that the ATF focused on the “worst of the worst”); id. at 81:12-23 (Johnson) (“We’re not going to make an impact in a city by arresting some 18-year-old kid for half ounce of meth. … It doesn’t change the neighborhood. We want the guy that’s going to make people safer if that guy is gone.”); id. at 7:18-25 (Johnson)(stating that, in deciding whether to pursue someone, the ATF agents considered the person’s “known criminal history [and] criminal reputation”). For statistical evidence to have any hope for making a credible case for the ATF treating similarly situated individuals differently, it must, at the very least, say something about enforcement trends vis-à-vis individuals who (i) commit drug trafficking or firearm related offenses, (ii) live in a city; and (iii) have a history of violent crime. Laneham’s District of New Mexico statistics, by contrast, reflect the demographic trends of offenders throughout New Mexico and include offenders without histories of violent crime. See DNM statistics. Even that kind of evidence may not be enough, however, as it would not say anything about the ATF’s actions in particular — i.e., it may not rule out other explanations for the Surge’s high percentage of African-American Defendants. Laneham provides no argument or authority why the Court should consider that the twenty-eight African-Americans among the 103 Surge-related Defendants arrested over four months in 2016 as a statistically significant result. The Court cannot soundly ignore the possibility that the results are statistical noise from an inadequate sample size or that confounding factors produced the results. Laneham has not ruled out those possibilities.

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